Landlord News

Letting agents must publicise fees from today

Em Morley - May 27, 2015

Letting agents are being reminded that from today, it is a legal requirement for them to publicise all fees that they plan to charge landlords and tenants. In changes to the Consumer Rights Act 2015, letting agents must now prominently display all fees in all of their offices, as well as on their website.

Guidance

Assistance for the new laws has been provided by the Department for Communites and Local Government, which itself has received guidance from the Advertising Standards Authority.

The guidelines for agents states that: ‘All fees, charges or penalties (however expressed) which are payable to the agent by a landlord or tenant in respect of letting agency work and property management work carried out by the agent in connection with an assured tenancy. This includes fees, charges or penalties in connection with an assured tenancy of a property or a property that is, has been or is proposed to be let under an assured tenancy.’[1]

Additionally, all fees must be shown inclusive of VAT, but agents are not permitted to publicise rent payable to a landlord, nor the tenancy deposit taken.

Failure to comply could see letting agents facing a Trading Standards bill of up to £5,000.

 

Letting agents must publicise fees from today

Letting agents must publicise fees from today

Tough action

Sean Hooker, head of redress at the Property Redress Scheme, said that, ‘’lower penalties will only be applied in extenuating circumstances which will not include, ‘I did not know about the Law’ or I did not know what to do.”[1]

On letting agent requirements, Hooker said that, “fees should be clear and specific without surcharges or hidden costs. Generic terms such as, ‘administration fee,’ are no longer acceptable and all charges should be displayed inclusive of tax.”[1] Talking directly to agents, he said that, “in effect your customers should be aware what you intend to charge them as soon as they walk into your office or click on your website. If they have to ask, you’re probably not displaying them right.’[1]

Letting agents are now also required to make clear which of the three redress schemes they have joined. This will be either The Property Ombudsman, The Property Redress Scheme or Ombudsman Services Property. Moreover, agents are also warned that they must indicate whether or not they have Client Money Protection. Hooker warns that a lack of clarity on this will be considered a breach of legislation.

[1] http://www.lettingagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2015/5/letting-agents-must-publish-fees-from-today